Vietnam veterans visit MCLB Albany - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Vietnam veterans visit MCLB Albany

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – It can be difficult to imagine what life must be like for Americans serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. But one group of men and women understand the sacrifices that are being made in those countries very well.

Friday, 60 men and women came from different parts of the country to visit the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany.

Lt. Kyle Thompson, the Public Information Officer at the base said, "these are the group of individuals who were at the embassy in Saigon sometime before its fall on April 30th, 1975."

Whether they served during the early years of American involvement in Southeast Asia, like Jim Prosser: "I went there in July 1955, left two years later."

Or later on, when the conflict heated up, like Robert Bishton: "I served in the embassy in Saigon in 1967, 1968 and 1969."

One thing seems to hold them all together.  According to Prosser, it's "the camaraderie."

But for the retired diplomats in this group, it's actually two things. Because the Marines who guarded U.S. Embassies around the world were always a welcome sight.

"We've had them in every post that I was at. In the Belgian Congo, in Russia, everywhere," said Prosser.

Friday, they toured the Maintenance Center and the base, had lunch, and learned about modern training techniques. But while they were enjoying their day, another conflict was on some of their minds.

For the civilians and Marines who served at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, the pictures on the Nightly News bring back memories of what they experienced all those years ago.

They're watching what's going on in the current conflicts in Asia with the understanding that comes from being in a war zone themselves.

Bishton said, "I would say the experience in Iraq and Afghanistan is probably a lot more difficult."

But Bishton says that the current conflicts in Asia are different in one important way.

"Every time they go outside of the embassy compound, their lives are in danger as well," he said.

And despite the dangers that their modern counterparts face, the retired embassy workers, whether they were Marines or civilians, know that Americans that are serving today are doing it with the best interests of the nation at heart. Just like they did so many years ago.

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